NASA pairs with university, vendors on high-dependability software

NASA pairs with university, vendors on high-dependability software

By Patricia Daukantas

GCN Staff

DEC. 12—NASA is joining with a research university and 12 companies to form a consortium that will seek to reduce or eliminate failures in the nation's most essential computer systems.

Through the new High Dependability Computing Consortium, researchers from NASA's Ames Research Center at Moffett Field, Calif., and Carnegie Mellon University in Pittsburgh, will develop software that is affordable as well as reliable, officials announced yesterday.

'How often do you say something like, 'Why can't a country that put a man on the moon create a plug-and-play printer driver?'' asked James H. Morris, dean of Carnegie Mellon's School of Computer Science. 'A place to start answering that question is at the agency that put a man on the moon.'

Ames director Henry McDonald acknowledged that last year's failures of two unmanned NASA missions to Mars, as well as the year 2000 problem and the 'tremendous embedding of software throughout the United States,' underscore the degree to which society depends on system reliability.

The consortium includes industry giants Compaq Computer Corp., Hewlett-Packard Co., IBM Corp., Microsoft Corp., SGI and Sun Microsystems Inc. along with Adobe Systems Inc., ILOG Inc. and Marimba Inc., both of Mountain View, Calif., Novell Inc., Siebel Systems Inc. of San Mateo, Calif., and Sybase Inc.

The firms will participate 'on the basis of enlightened self-interest,' McDonald said. The basic work will remain in the public domain, though companies will commercialize the technology as they see fit, he said.

Early this year, NASA awarded Carnegie Mellon a $500,000 grant to develop the consortium plans.

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